If a guy appeared before you and started doing magical things claiming to be god, would you be convinced? What if he had encyclopedic knowledge of everything, like, everything?
I ask this because if I hopped into a time machine and traveled one or two thousand years into the past with modern technology and gadgets and some way to access any data we have on the time period (who is going to be king in however many years, when a disaster is going to occur etc), would I not be indiscernible from god?
So, if someone appeared before us with magic and knowledge, would you be finally convinced, or remain skeptical, open to the possibility that this person simply has technology more advanced then we do?
(don't get too hung up on the time travel thing, it was just an example)
all i'd have to do (as a time traveler) is meet you some time in the future, find out some interesting things about you, maybe over a few beers. then go to the past and reveal these things "that only you could know" to the old you who didn't realize that you'd eventually reveal them at some time in the future. easy.
Or Jesus was a time-traveling Penn and Teller doing a slight-of-hand. Or a native of the time doing slight-of-hand. Or said he'd done it and people believed him. Or never did it, never claimed to do it, but people made up impressive stories about him. Or is a figure like King Arthur, who may be based on a human being, but has been invested with so much legend and myth that you can't tell what, if any, of what has been handed down is true.
"If a guy appeared before you and started doing magical things claiming to be god, would you be convinced?"
I'd be convinced that he's a magician, but not a god.
"What if he had encyclopedic knowledge of everything, like, everything?"
No. (How could we determine this?)
What would it take for me to be convinced someone is a god? It depends on the powers he claimed to have, but if he's the regular all-knowing, all-powerful variety: if he were to move a mountain without bulldozers, drain all the oceans with a snap of his fingers or at the very least, make crop circles appear in a pine forest with naught but the power of his mind, then I would consider the possibility that he might be a god. I'd still have doubts, though, but then it would be up to him to use his supernatural abilities to determine exactly what to do in order to convince me. And then do that.
Analyzable a controlled environment and the acceptable answer of personal questions.
Even if my conclusion was that the being was so advanced that it and the god definition were close to the same, it would still have to have the values I hold dear, or a very good explanation as to why mine should be different.